I previously wrote about my love of food, and how I enjoy it in the French fashion.
Today my food sharing is distinctively more Italiano.
I love Italian food.
I am learning to love to prepare food the way our grandmothers did. Enjoying the process. Reaping super flavorful and nutritious benefits. Plus it was a good way to warm our cold house on a gray bitter day in February.
I have pretty much perfected my own spaghetti sauce recipe.
I tried my hand at it for the first time this past summer, after buying a bushel of roma tomatoes at the Ithaca Farmers Mart.
I had so much then, that I even did my very first canning.
I can't wait for this spring when hubby and I rota-till up a big veggie and herb garden. We have had a tiny one for the last couple years, the amount of actual produce depending on how pregnant, or how many toddlers, I was contending with, any given Spring.
Last year I had a weed garden instead.
But with a deep sigh,shook my head and said:
(that is really my veggie garden, I made that sign as a private joke to myself cuz whenever I would talk about my gardens I found myself repeatedly saying that phrase: I suffer from big plans with little time)
Here is my Laid-back tomato sauce recipe:
5 lbs of ripe roma tomatoes( yes in the winter home-made sauce is not cost effective)
about 8 clove sections of fresh garlic; pressed
1 small sweet onion; coarsely cut up
2 cans of Hunts tomato paste ;12 to 16 oz.
A generous splash of olive oil
Several generous splashed on your fav. red wine (or cooking wine)
3 1/2 cups of water
favorite Italian sesonings
for you meat lovers: 1 lb. of lean ground beef; cooked
The Work: (dont freak over all the steps, but plan on not doing much of anything else this afternoon)
1. Cook up garlic, onions, olive oil, and seasoning in med. saucepan; stir often till onions are soft and brown
2. At same time fill a big stockpot full of water and put to boil
3. Put in both cans of tomato paste when onions look cooked. Slowly add 2 CUPS ONLY of water.
4. Cook on low. Stir frequently. Turn heat OFF, when bubbling, and cover.
5. Plop all the tomatoes into your boiling water. Then reduce your heat a little.
6. You can walk away for about 15-20 minutes here. That is how long it takes for the skins on the tomatoes to start to peel and break apart. That is when you know they are done. Pour the tomatoes into a strainer.
7. Spray cold water over them to cool. Start to strip the skins off each tomato. (note the inside juices that gush out when you start doing this are still the internal temperate of lava)
7b. the skins come off surprisingly easy. Just get your thumb under the loose skin and peel it like an orange (tomato is a fruit you know). There are two schools of thought on preparing tomatoes for home-made sauce:. One~ is to take the "butt" end of the tomato where the little divet is and yank out the innerds of seeds and "guts" much like a farmer's wife would do with a freshly killed chicken. OR you can just take off the skin, and plop the whole thing back into the nearby stockpot you cooked them in, and take out any really big chunks of tomato guts and seeds later, if you want to. Though honestly, I like it chunky, and you probably get more nutrients, and good juices that way. Your choice. But I digress.
8. Once all tomatos are stripped and put in the stockpot, mash them up as thoroughly as you can. I always use an old-fashioned pototo masher.
9. Add your covered pan of tomato paste at this point to your mashed tomatoes.
10. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water.
11. Add your wine( I always take a couple sips here myself cuz I deserve it)
12. Put your stove on super LOW.
13. Cook about 2-2 1/2 hours. You have to wander back ever so often to stir, making sure it is not sticking on the bottom.
14. After the 2 hours or so add your COO KED ground beef.
15. Simmer another hour or so, still stirring once in a while.
* Note: if the sauce starts to bubbly and explode a bit on your stove, add some water.
16. Serve warm over your favorite whole wheat pasta dish, just prior to serving
Left overs can be put into a jar, and will keep up to a week in the fridge (though we have been known to eat it much longer than a week after cooking, but we are super cheap like that).
Lots of work, yes
But it feels good to slow down, create, serve it out, and it tastes phenomenal.